Monday, December 16, 2013

Stronghold 3 Review

Stronghold 3

The Stronghold was founded in 2001, during the golden age of real-time strategy. Developed by Firefly Studios, the game is distinguished from its congeners by the play structure more focused on issues concerning the life of the castles (the setting is in fact a medieval) rather than on combat and tactics typical of games like Age of Empires.

Yet, the management of the castle sieges became a real trademark of the franchise. Few products can return the immersive feeling that you have nellassediare or defend a castle of enormous size. An official sequel which disappointed fans, along with other spin-off (usually the most successful of that Stronghold 2), have marked the past of the series, which now has 3 Stronghold, decided to combine the best of the original chapter with the latest technological developments .

Unlike what was done with the second episode, Firefly Studios has preferred to rely on a third-party graphics technology, the Vision Game Engine for Trinity, rather than develop it internally. This choice has helped a lot to the creation of the game, given that the team has been able to focus more on issues that affect the gameplay, having available a graphics engine ready.

In addition to a visual appearance of the first order, the new engine has positive effects, and perhaps most importantly, the gameplay. The camera is now fully three-dimensional isometric abandoning the structure of the previous year. The user is thus free to rotate as they wish, by analyzing the most of every detail of the game map, and consequently to study battle tactics effective or more precisely locate the various facilities on the ground.

The position of the same buildings under construction can in turn be rotated. More important than what you might think, because it offers the possibility to speed up travel between production and inventory, for example by placing the entry of a sawmill near the warehouse, making the passage of goods far more quickly than in past.

The technical innovations do not stop here. In search of a greater factor of realism, the developer has adopted the Havok physics engine for the various buildings, focusing in particular on the walls that make up the castle. This aspect also gives new vigor to the gameplay, as castles go to crumble realistically, the risk of harm, at the time of the collapse, even to neighboring parts. Feature that clearly expands the scope with which the player can extricate themselves in various situations of attack, enhancing solutions tactics designed to break down the enemy strongholds.

Do not even underestimate the impact of the introduction of day-night cycle and weather. For the first time in the series, as it says with pride the packaging of the game, you can take part in sieges illuminated by the stars, during which the fog that go to form the cold night can be both an advantage or a disadvantage for troops engaged in battle.

But beyond the technical qualities, which as said, however, have brought benefits not just the gameplay, just the play structure is the backbone of the entire production, as well congegna for securities of this type. Simply put, Stronghold 3 does is take what good had been done with the original chapter and shoot it to the nth degree, with all the pros and cons of the case.

Rather than revolutionizing it always functional gameplay, the developers have focused more in the fix flaws, especially in the second chapter which had falcidiato so important to the whole quality of the game. He worked in a particular way, and successfully, the management of popularity among his subjects, now more realistic and less subject to sudden changes such as going hand in Stronghold 2. In essence, the inhabitants go this time to evaluate the constancy over time, both positive and negative, so even during the worst of the kingdom, though until then he had done good, the subjects are willing to show patience to overcome the her sire, (you) the negative period.

Urge state so long as Stronghold 3 points on the economic and social, relegating the battles to sieges mentioned several times. To win the game is not enough training of a huge army if you live in your home town then bad. Not even enough to build houses galore, because excessive taxation leads the inhabitants to leave the city-castle. Must know how to make better decisions when appropriate: the amount of food rationing for the inhabitants, the number of banquets at home, the organization of masses at the church site and other social aspects that will help fuel the well-being in life of subjects.

It seems obvious to say so as Stronghold 3 is a title not suitable for lovers of action, which would support the inevitable sore downtime due to waiting to be collected the necessary resources to continue the expansion of the castle. Just about the latter two words are also costs in terms of what is new. During construction, the user, it can act with a variety of angles much larger than in the past, so we can arrange a more convenient and effective the various parts of the walls. Moreover, it is finally possible to act directly on the plant of the same manor, deciding as to be able to personalize the various subsections or not internal to the structure.

Stronghold 3 provides in essence a game structure of thick, very deep, especially designed for patients and players willing to really study every detail to the growth of its castle. Reasoned that philosophy is necessarily maintained even in battle. Attacks with his head down without the slightest tactical acumen will inevitably translate into a killing (literally speaking) troops deployed on the ground. We must instead understand and find the weak point of the enemy castle, perhaps organizing related diversions to distract the soldiers in defense.

For the more experienced players said what may seem obvious, but who you approach for the first time the series will take some time before you figure out how to best manage a siege, mainly because of the impossibility of choosing the difficulty level. The same is true of course when you are in defense, but in that case is particularly winning the previous work, the intelligent construction of a structure able to withstand the enemy offensive and helping to protect its population.

But there are problems. First of all the pointing system, falcidiato by a glitch that forces the user, for example, do not click directly on the unit to attack, but the area around it, which becomes problematic in situations inevitably feel more excited. Furthermore, it is true that the economic management and the military are two totally separate things at the behest of the developer, but do not mix even when they should: it absurd to see life in the slow lane manor, with the happy subjects, while the siege raged outside enemy. There is also some limitation in battle too, especially with specialized units in the attack at long range, and finally very small maps that may not appeal to many players.

Despite the problems described, which certainly invalidate a little overall quality of the work, the depth and fun is guaranteed, along with gameplay modes offered, opening the way for a major longevity. Stronghold 3 allows users to engage in two different single player campaigns, one dedicated to the military and therefore focused on sieges, the other focused on the economics, where a players task will be particularly to revive a civilization destroyed by war. Both stories are narrated by a dark graphic novel quite fascinating, made of high quality designs.

In the single player can also engage in a mode that allows you to relive some of the sieges that have shaped the history of the Middle Ages, in which will have to decide whether to defend or attack the castle, with the possibility, therefore, can change the events that really happened . For this type of game, the developer has admitted that he used Google Earth to ensure a geographical fidelity crazy with reality. Intent perfectly successful.

Disappoint the contrary, the absence of a Skirmish mode (only one free mode, in which the player can build his castle ... and nothing, not even live with the risk that someone could attack at any moment). Kingmaker also absent, however, go online, where it will be also allowed to venture onto the modes like King of the Hill, Capture the Flag and Team Deathmatch.

Discreet finally the sound department, which has a catchy soundtrack and effects of various well-made. The voices are entirely dubbed in Italian, with a good job in the acting of the actors, except for a couple of exceptions. Too bad that the dialogue with the assistant during the game are excessive and sometimes annoying, putting the player in a position to totally disable the option and rely on subtitles.

Stronghold 3 is therefore the natural revival of the best offered by the series in recent years. Solved the most important problems of the second chapter, the newborn of Firefly Studios does not disappoint, introducing new load of right, especially technology, offering the gameplay rewarding, thoughtful and deep that the franchise differs from all others. His unique style, designed to take the most of the Middle Ages, is the icing on the cake of a product recommended to all fans of the genre and in particular the saga.

Not missing any structural defect also rather unexpected, since the absence of a mode very important as the Skirmish and some inconsistency with the style adopted in the gameplay. The full price (49 euros) would also have to give up even the most avid fans.

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